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This album was reviewed by five members of
RARB. In this compilation, their comments are
always listed in a consistent order. Thus, for each song (and in the
"overall" section), all comments numbered "1" are from the same
reviewer, as are those numbered "2", etc.
Scores in parentheses are the reviewers' average song ratings for this
I know these guys are good. I just didn't think the
ALBUM was. To me, it seems like a case of a good
group, but just not enough work put into the album. It seemed
most of the time that they were holding back, perhaps trying to
get a better blend, but it ended up they sounded insipid in
some places. The choices of repertoire are somewhat original,
but in many cases questionable.
Rating: 6 (5.4)
The Pitchforks have great energy and some creative
arrangements. The voices are generally strong, and they have a
full group sound. They could use some more vocal percussion,
but overall, they are a solid group and an enjoyable listen.
Rating: 7 (7.0)
There is one thing that this album needs more of: energy. The
Pitchforks sing in a controlled manner (like when you sing for
alumni) and never seem to let their hair down and cut loose.
Intonation is good in most songs, soloists are fine but not
fabulous, arrangements are also ok, but don't expect to hear
any vocal or musical acrobatics here. If you don't mind this
subdued sound (possibly King's Singers fans?), you will
probably enjoy this album more than I do.
Rating: 5 (5.5)
The Pitchforks are clearly in control of their music. Pitch,
ensemble, blend and dynamics are all outstanding throughout,
although the leads do have a tendency to be a bit reserved,
sometimes to the detriment of the performance. Musicianship is
uniformly high. (The Pitchforks apparently have benefited
greatly from the influence and advice of a faculty advisor, who
also provided some of the better arrangements on the album.)
This album deserves serious attention from the CARA board — I
only hope the timing is right.
I was also impressed by the album packaging. The Pitchforks
look like a class act. Not only do they credit the arranger
and the soloists and principal vocal lines, they also credit
the inspiring artist. In all cases but one ("Alison", by Elvis
Costello, but inspired by the Tufts Beelzebubs) this is the
Rating: 8 (8.1)
They sound more like a women's group than a men's group really,
with both the commonly seen strengths and weaknesses thereof -
they blend really well, and have good voices for ensemble
singing, but they lack strong basses and consistent soloists
for the type of music they're doing. If they either arranged
differently or sang more choral songs they would be much better
off. Also the recording/mixing quality is not very good, and a
lot of these songs would be much improved by mixing. The best
songs on this album are the slow songs, and they pretty much
sound the same due to extremely similar arrangements.
Rating: 5 (4.6)
Nice solo, good arrangement and vocal rhythms.
A solid track with good energy.
Intonation good for the most part, airy soloist is ok.
Interesting pattern for the verse, overall energy is a
little low but ok.
Ensemble in the often quick background is excellent. So
is pitch in the upper range entrances. Lead projects
This song almost works, solo too raspy and straining at
top pitches, there's a nice perkiness to the little
harmony bits that are interspersed throughout the song,
the choral parts are quite nice. Arrangement is not
stellar but decent.
Smooth solo. Effective use of dynamics. Tight
harmonies with nice blend in the background. Good bass
Light jazz arrangement a la Whiffs. Balanced, most of
the notes are there on some difficult chords, but lacks
the bite it needs.
Excellent jazzy arrangement. Background blend and
balance are impeccable. The lead is a little too
restrained. Outstanding dynamics.
Not bad, solo is appropriately antique-sounding although
it would be better if it were just a little less
tremulous. I think their style is well suited for this
kind of song. They blend quite well on this, even though
the song is not my favorite.
Very nice, if simple, arrangement. A nice choice of
ballad. Good blend, but the overall sound is a little
flat (dimensionally, not musically).
A la Bubs. This light love song lacks the emotion it
needs. Again notes are there, solo ok, but not
Beautiful, understated arrangement. I particularly like
the bass line, which is solid without being overbearing.
Also not bad, solo pretty good, very sensitive, albeit
falters once in a really obvious spot, and they blend
pretty well, I like the song okay. The arrangement is a
little drab, but often pretty in a very subdued way. I
think it deserves to be better mixed, though.
High energy arrangement with a tight, nervous
background. The arrangement doesn't seem to evolve,
though I kept expecting it to.
They don't have enough pop sensibility to carry this
song off, solo inappropriate — too trained-sounding and
over-enunciated. Arrangement a little warbly and choral,
although there are some mildly interesting parts.
Great arrangement — the fullness ascends through the
verses, building to the chorus. Very well done. The
whole thing works.
Great song choice, good arrangement during the verses,
setting a good mood, but not enough activity and bite in
the chorus. Pleasing solo.
The changing textures of the original are well
represented here. The ending is uncomfortable abrupt.
This is a great song to do a cappella! I am shocked at
how much more I like this song a cappella than normal.
This arrangement is also nice, solo not bad, one of
their better songs. Their choral arranging style is
better suited to this song than most of the others on
The solo has real personality and feeling — an added
dimension. Nice full sound on chorus. The bass line is
great. This one got my attention every time I listened
to the tape.
With none of the energy of the original (which is the
worst song on Jeff Lynne's solo album), this song falls
flat on its face, though the group's intonation is fine.
Well done imitative arrangement, but otherwise
I like this song but their rendition of it is
more-or-less mediocre — the solo is okay but not poppy
enough, the background is strangely empty, arrangement
again overly choral although parts of it work.
Good bluesy sound, with a rich, solid solo. Background
really supports the solo well.
I find myself really tired of this song after 10
seconds, and it doesn't get better. Intonation problems
on top of that make me reach for "track skip" even
before it starts.
An imitative arrangement, but an extremely difficult
one! Outstanding intonation on the jazz chords; balance
and blend are once again perfect. Only one fault: the
sax line interpretation ignores the ironic interplay
between sax and voice of the original, which was one of
my favorite things about the piece.
This song works surprisingly well a cappella, solo
pretty nice but could use a little more emotion,
background smooth and for the most part quite good.
Good, full arrangement. The choir stuff works well.
Tight cutoffs. Overall, well done.
Again, low energy, good intonation, ok arrangement,
A typical arrangement for this piece. Technically good,
it lacks fire.
I like this song too much not to be insulted by the
ridiculously choral treatment they give it, especial the
solo which is hollow and drawn-out. If they were singing
a different song it might work. The arrangement isn't
even that bad — it's just utterly appropriate. The end
practically turns into a Christmas song for a choir — it
sounds like a joke.
Very nice lead, the arrangement is a little spotty and
just doesn't flow right.
Solo is strong, but really reaches for some of those
high notes. In general, a good interpretation of the
original. Good song choice.
Good solo (kinda like Gabriel) but a little flat in
places. Tempo seems a little slow, which takes out a
lot of the life.
A very good, imitative arrangement. Once again, it
seems to lack bite, but the recording studio is a pretty
This is one of the better renditions of the song I've
heard — mostly due to the soloist, who (although he
stretches it a little) manages to approximate the
original. The weird hoarse quality to his voice suits
the song well. He pushes too hard though on parts that
are supposed to be delicate, as well as having definite
pitch problems, which get progressively more irritating
with repeated listenings. Arrangement is also not bad,
although the ending is ridiculous.
A difficult song to pull off. Nice to see some
percussion in it, though.
Good solo, ok arrangement, interesting to listen to.
Outstanding lead and a good, high-energy background. I
like the changes in texture through this arrangement,
and the occasional fragmented background figures which
incorporate lyrics rather than using the usual
The solo is kind of annoying and spastic, arrangement
tries to be innovative and sometimes succeeds, but again
it's not well suited to the song.
Very smooth. Nice background blend. An unexpected song
choice which is a pretty, soothing ballad.
Nice solo. The light-sounding background sounds ok on
mellow songs like this.
Pretty, quiet arrangement. One of the few places on the
album where you can find a pitch problem (in the high
background voice — but you've got to be quick).
This is actually not a bad song, one of their most
sensitive ones, I like the soloist's voice even though
the lowest notes are out of his range. The arrangement
is more-or-less what one would expect, a pleasant enough
song but not exactly a knockout.
Great energy and a good arrangement, but a few nagging
pitch problems in the solo.
An excellent imitative arrangement (with all of the feel
and sound of the original) is unfortunately hurt by a
soul-less mediocre solo. With the soloist, this is one
of the album's best.
The background ensemble demonstrated excellent dynamics
and articulation here, which is especially noticeable in
the exposed opening. The arrangement, while generally
imitative, includes some nice transitions more
appropriate to voices than what was in the original (at
least the way I remember it).
This song is decent until the soloist comes in, his
voice is too slight for the song, the
arrangement/version isn't bad, this song works
surprisingly well a cappella.
Yea for percussion! The clapping isn't always together,
but is effective and is there. This song got me moving.
Huey Lewis seems to work well a cappella.
Unfortunately, this song is again plagued by a weak
chorus because the group doesn't cut loose.
Good arrangement with the (by now) usual, outstanding
accompaniment. The lead, however, is too restrained for
Another detracting soloist. I also just don't like this
song all that much, and their arrangement doesn't make
me like it any more. The bass line sticks out and is
annoying, as does the clapping, although if those two
things were remedied, it wouldn't be all that bad.
Great song choice — fun, and well done! Good
arrangement and percussion. A refreshing change in
sound and style from the rest of the album.
As unimaginative as the Bobs' version. It's sung ok,
with solos switching off and with funny voices for some
of them, but it just doesn't do it for me.
A great, quirky little number which presents an
excellent change of feel. The character voices leading
the verses are outstanding.
Boring arrangement, clapping out of synch at points,
background is consistently flat on top notes, two out of
the four soloists can't hit the low notes. The effects
on "Universe Man"'s voice and the frying pan noise are
cute but overall not a particularly exciting rendition
of this song.
Very good soloists — but again WHY CHOOSE THIS SONG???
A disappointing song choice immediately following
"Particle Man", but of the many a
cappella versions of this song that I have heard, this
is the best. Credit should go to the arranger for
adding to the empty-sounding original. Nice solo, and I
like the ending which incorporates another Extreme song.
OK solo, not real exciting overall (imagine that!).
The arrangement preserves the feel of the original while
being a bit better suited to voices than a straight
transcription. The lead demonstrates excellent
character, here. The ending tag is a nice finish.
Arrangement extremely basic, the soloist's huskiness is
not at all suited to this song, the other solo is
somewhat better although his pitch is sometimes
questionable, and the two don't blend very
well. Percussion fades in and out and is not very
effective. The end is the only remotely innovative part
of the arrangement, with "Hole-Hearted" mixed in.
Strong and confident. The soloist has real presence.
Good movement in the background. And although "The Lion
Sleeps Tonight" is overdone, it works in this song.
Great solo, ok arrangement, and again not much group
energy but background otherwise sung ok. Funny "Lion"
bit is taken too far.
An excellent lead. Once again, control of dynamics and
articulation really make the background accompaniment
come alive without fighting the lead for attention. And
the sudden guest appearance of an a cappella standard (I
won't spoil the surprise) in the middle is neat.
Not bad, although I thought it was better before I heard
the original again. Manages to take all the rock out of
the song, and the rendering of "Wimoweh (The Lion Sleeps
Tonight)" is entirely derivative. Solo is decent except
for occasional pitch problems and excessive vibrato.